Mon | Aug 20, 2018

Garth Rattray | Mothers, tell your girls about sex

Published:Monday | May 16, 2016 | 12:00 AM

I have a habit of spontaneously opening up talk about the dangers of intimate relationships with preteen and teenage girls with the tacit or explicit permission of, and in the presence of, their mothers.

Some moms chime in with, "Yes, doc! Tell har fi mi!" This implies that their words on the topic have been falling on deaf ears. Other moms nod slowly with a half-smile and say, "She knows, she knows ... ."

But, some mothers are stone-faced and mute; this means one of two things. Either those moms find the topic so delicate that they withdraw and are happy that an 'authority figure' has broached it. Or, the moms find it so taboo that they were thinking that their little girls were living in ignorance (perhaps like they did) and were hoping for the best. I know that there are moms who literally pimp out their little girls (for money, for stuff, or out of fear), but as far as I am aware, I've never met one in my office.




No child is ignorant of sex. It is everywhere - on the television, on the radio, on billboards, on the streets, in the homes, in the schools, on the playing fields and, worst of all, on the Internet (which includes all smartphones). Children can't escape being bombarded by sex. It's used to sell just about everything. Therefore, it's the parents' duty to put sex in the right perspective, context, circumstance and chronology.

There is nothing wrong with sexual intercourse - that's how we all got here. But it should be between mentally capable, legally mature (which varies from one jurisdiction to the next) and consenting adults (which also varies from one jurisdiction to the next). I'm not going to get into the minutiae of sex between who and who and where and how.

Regarding little girls, as they mature physically, hormones can play havoc with their bodies and psyche. Many of them convince themselves that they are in love with a guy just because they are physically attracted to him. Another huge mistake that girls make is to believe that if a fellow shows them some sort of interest, he is interested in them (as a person/human being), when all he really wants is sex.

An interested guy will say and do almost anything to experience sexual intercourse with the young girl that he has targeted. And, historically, he would have good reason to believe that some other guy is going to get her prize pretty soon anyway, so why shouldn't that guy be him? In other words, girls that put out are making it bad for themselves and for other girls.

Parents, especially mothers, need to be detailed and explicit regarding the dangers of sexual intercourse, the possible sexually transmitted infections, and the seriousness of getting pregnant. Both carry immediate, short-term and long-term risks and consequences.

I recently saw a 14-year-old who engaged in sexual intercourse a few weeks ago. It would have been a secret, but she started bleeding fairly heavily right after the act and continued doing so. In other words, something inside her was torn and bleeding.




She was mortified when I confirmed that I could only refer her to the Centre for the Investigation of Sexual Offences and Child Abuse. And, in keeping with the law, I reported it to the Office of the Children's Registry (at 1-888-PROTECT). She admitted that she was always told (by her mom and at school) that underage sexual intercourse is illegal, but she wasn't aware of how serious it was.

For any adult who suspects or is aware of any abuse or any sexual act and does not report it, there is six months of imprisonment and/or a fine of $500,000 and a criminal record. For the other party, there is possible imprisonment and/or a fine and a criminal record.

I don't know whether or not she was being genuine, but the 14-year-old then admitted that if she knew how serious the laws were, she would not have engaged in sexual intercourse. Schools should explain the seriousness of the laws to serve as a deterrent.

- Garth A. Rattray is a medical doctor with a family practice. Email feedback to and